THE NEW Patriotic Party (NPP) has asked government to review the current anti-cocoa smuggling measures because of its failure to arrest the situation.
According to a release from the Communications Director of the main opposition party, Kwaku Kwarteng, “We hope government would take steps to punish the perpetrators (both the smugglers and corrupt officials) to signal a lesson to others that such wrongs would not go unpunished”.
The reaction of the NPP follows a recent capture on video by some journalists, of smuggling activities in which some Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) officials were involved.
The NPP he stated, “Congratulates the investigative journalists who so courageously captured on video the smuggling of cocoa and other commodities across our borders. This display of commitment to duty is worthy of emulation by all”.
A swift handling of the matter, the NPP noted, could help correct public suspicion that some senior members in government have a hand in the smuggling activities at our borders.
Border patrol, the NPP went on, is an insufficient policy to contain cocoa smuggling adding, “Parity of cocoa producer prices across our borders (especially with Cote d'Ivoire) is a far more effective and less expensive strategy to control cocoa smuggling”.
The NPP again noted that, the NDC on assumption of power, abandoned the policy of offering Ghanaian farmers the same producer prices as offered in neighbouring countries, which was successfully used previously.
The NPP recalled in a statement the advice it offered the Mills government on the 8th of October 2009 that “the huge price difference between producer prices of cocoa in Ghana and our neighbouring countries was an invitation to smuggling. That advice was not taken”.
The assumption by the NDC government that, by offering low producer prices to Ghanaian farmers and selling the same cocoa at high prices on the international market can reap a lot of revenue, according to the NPP, is naive.
“The amount of cocoa smuggled when such price difference exists across our borders causes far more loss of revenue to the state than the additional revenue we get by paying lower prices to our farmers. Besides, why should government want to out-smart or cheat our poor cocoa farmers?” the NPP questioned.
Currently the NPP explained that a 64kg bag of cocoa is purchased at 64,000 CFA, the equivalent of GH¢213, from Ivorian farmers. The same 64kg bag, the party mentioned, is purchased at GH¢150 by Ghana government from our farmers.
That Cote d'Ivoire is paying 42% more to its farmers, the NPP concluded, “Is the cause of the smuggling. Government must review cocoa producer prices for Ghanaian farmers without further delay”.